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According to current brain research, the human brain has stages of development that last into the early to mid-twenties. During these last stages of development, there is still active physical growth occurring in the corpus collosum. Changes that occur after this are no longer considered development but merely reorganization/restructuring of thought processes and neural pathways. This is the kind of information that led me to believe the extraordinary phase of self-discovery I experienced in my early twenties was a one-time deal.

Whether the actual physical changes in my brain are the same or not, experientially, the internal process that occurred in my early twenties and that which is currently happening for me is much the same. It began with feelings of intense anxiety and despair. I identified the root of the emotional reactions. It was a shift in perception. I began to pay attention to that shift.

My brain seemed to run endlessly the first time. I had one profound thought after another. They came so rapidly, I couldn’t write them down before ten more occurred to me. The anxiety over my inability to catalogue my thoughts before they were lost in the slush pile of information that was speeding through my mind was intense, until I finally decided to release them. I wrote down what I could and let the leaping dolphins I couldn’t capture with the pen re-submerge into the ocean depths of my subconscious. I trusted they would stay with me, friendly things that they were, even if I couldn’t access them consciously or at will.

This time around also began with anxiety. However, it was different in that my life had become so very much more complicated. Marriage, children, financial upsets, relationship challenges, extreme hormone fluctuations, my father’s death, moving twice in the span of a year, changing jobs, and more hit me all at once. Extreme distractions made the process harder to identify and slower to occur. This mental restructuring has shaken my perceptions and experiences of things that define me and things that provide me with mental security. The foundations of my faith, my sexuality, my ability to empathize, my relationship with guilt, my relationship with emotion itself and much more, have all been shaken and aired out.

My first reaction was fear. It was fear of the unknown. For example, faith has never been a struggle for me, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it was, with seemingly no explanation. My sex drive skyrocketed. My view of right and wrong shifted; became even less black- and-white, which also affected my experience of sex. My guilt relinquished the intensity of its grip on me, leaving me better able to empathize with a wider circle of people and experiences.

I enjoyed this newfound freedom of expression, but feared it because I didn’t understand it.

Then, something occurred to me which gave this whole experience cohesiveness, and opened me up to my experiences with renewed acceptance. Some say that people who had a particularly challenging relationship with their father (say, perhaps, due to abuse) have greater difficulty drawing close to God, since he is described as a heavenly father. That wasn’t my problem. I had a relatively good relationship with my father. He was an inspiration to me and to many others, spiritually speaking. You almost couldn’t find anything bad to say about him. He was an incredible example of deep caring and unselfish availability. He devoted himself to study and was a non-judgemental ear for those calling to him for aid. He provided my brother and I with a firm spiritual foundation. I definitely defined much of my relationship with God on my view of and relationship with my father.

Then suddenly, he was gone.

Now I, personally, have a deep faith that I will see him again. But apparently that wasn’t enough for my subconscious brain, which has been restructuring itself ever since. I was very sad when my father died and yet, at the same time, there was this feeling of liberation. It’s like I subconsciously pictured my dad watching me and judging my actions. And, now that he’s gone, I am free to just be myself. I no longer have to judge my actions based on what my father might have done differently or “better.” Since this is a site that discusses types, I will mention that I am an INFJ 4w5 and my father was an ESFJ 3w2.

I definitely see God and my father as two distinct concepts, but it seems I need to pick away at those two concepts to make sure the separateness is complete in my head. I still don’t know exactly what direction my brain is going. My current restructuring is not complete. This blog doesn’t even cover the half of it – the experience so far nor that which is to come. I look forward to the eventual conclusions I will rest on and define myself by. And I’m excited to know I may go through this again and again, always growing in my understanding of life and my ability to accept and nurture others.
 

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Just want to say that none of these experiences, as individual and unique as they are, have escaped the sight of the Father. "O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down andmy rising up; You understand my thoughts afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways..." - Psalm 139

Our journeys are like a panorama before Him, and yet our either yielding or rebelling in response to His love and will determines much of the course. Know that He is the same and never changes. Neither does His love for us ever change.
 

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I don't know what it is like to lose my Dad, but I do know what it is like to lose a brother and I am sorry for your loss. But I too believe I'll see him again and I am grateful for that faith. I hope you continue to feel peace and find clarity in your process of discerning where your father ends and The Father begins. They both love you dearly and will continue to bless your life. Thank you for sharing.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Very interestingly, I spent time thinking thoughts like, "What if it had been my mom or my brother, my husband or my children who had died?" I came to the conclusion, though I can't know for sure since I haven't experienced it, that my brother's death would have shaken me more deeply than the death of anyone else - except my children of course. I obviously have grieved and am grieving the death of my father (learning new things about what that means every day), but, in a way, I'm grateful it wasn't my brother or my mother. It might be because my brother and my mother are both regular features in my life, whereas my dad and I weren't close for the last decade since he remarried. I have another friend (also INFJ) who lost her brother. She doesn't seem very open to talking about it. I can only imagine the depth of pain that would cause. Were you close?
 
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